the vine


'Talisman' just seems cursed

Steven Spielberg's latest attempt to bring "The Talisman" to the screen has hit a snag.

TNT's six-hour adaptation of the Stephen King-Peter Straub novel, executive produced by Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, has been put on hold because of budgetary issues, sources said.

The limited series, from DreamWorks TV, was announced by TNT with big fanfare in December and slated for a summer 2008 premiere. After all scripts were recently completed, it became clear that their execution would require a larger budget than previously allocated, sources said.

The fantasy-horror project, about a boy's quest through this world and a parallel world known as the Territories to find a talisman that will save his mother, is said to involve elaborate special effects. TNT and DreamWorks are now addressing the financial issues and looking for ways to make the series, sources said.

"Talisman" has been a passion project for Spielberg and Kennedy, who have developed it since optioning the book about 25 years ago though Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. Originally, "Talisman" was envisioned as a feature.

In 2000, the project was set up at ABC as a four-hour miniseries executive produced by Spielberg and Kennedy. Mick Garris was brought in to write and direct the mini, but after he delivered the script to the network, ABC opted not to proceed with the project because of what was reported at the time as budget issues.

"Talisman" was resurrected as a feature again at Universal Pictures and DreamWorks. After a series of writers (including Ehren Kruger, Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro), directors (including Vadim Perelman and Ed Zwick) and production start dates, the project was put on the back burner until Spielberg mentioned it to TNT's Michael Wright in summer 2005 after TNT and DreamWorks TV's collaboration on the 12-hour mini "Into the West." (Kimberly Nordyke and Nellie Andreeva)

NBC might be pulling the plug on the midseason comedy "The IT Crowd." The network made headlines in May by not putting a single new comedy series on its fall schedule for the first time in 30 years and by ordering only one new half-hour series, "IT," for midseason. The hybrid multi-/single-camera "IT," from Universal Media Studios and "American Idol" producer FremantleMedia North America, is an ensemble comedy set in an IT department. Despite being based on a British format, which is the forte of new NBC chief Ben Silverman and his top lieutenant Teri Weinberg — who, as producers at Reveille, developed a string of British comedy format adaptations, including NBC's Emmy-winning "The Office" — they didn't quite spark to "IT," sources said. The series hasn't gone into production, though a couple of scripts have been written.

Despite "IT's" possible demise, NBC still could avoid a total new comedy drought this season. The network is casting the half-hour pilot "Kath & Kim," a Reveille/UMS adaptation of the hit Australian comedy. It also is redeveloping the Reveille/UMS comedy pilot "Zip."

Meanwhile, two of the "IT" creators/executive producers, Moses Port and David Guarascio, have another new series, the CW's fall entry "Aliens in America." "IT's" other co-creators/executive producers are Joe Wiseman and Joe Port. (Nellie Andreeva)